It happens to the best of us. After you leave school and enter the workforce, it’s easy to forget much of what you learned. Order of operations, iambic pentameter, creative writing, and quadratic equations are bits of knowledge you may think you no longer need. However, there is one school-learned skill that you should hang onto and continue using: note-taking.
Plainly stated, note-taking is the skill to help you master all other skills. Are you not where you desire to be in your career? Do you want to impress your new boss? Do you struggle retaining information? If you answer “yes” to any of those questions, then it is time to take notes!
Don’t Miss Out
Taking on a new position can be overwhelming. You feel the pressure to prove to your new boss that they were right to hire you, so you try to learn the materials and tasks as quickly as possible. However, attempting to master the job at an impressive rate can lead to misremembering office protocol or skipping a step or two. But doing so could set you back. According to Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill or profession. What’s more, if you’ve ever been a musician then you know that practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. With that said, when learning new tasks, duties, and procedures, it’s important to write it down. (Even if you are familiar with these, in a new setting or under pressure to perform, the probability of misremembering is higher.)
Additionally, if you are a manager, you should encourage this practice by providing your employees with the materials to take notes. Notebooks and/or legal pads and pens should be readily available to all staff members.
Retain & Process the Information
Take the extra time to review your notes and copy them out legibly and in long hand. Reviewing your notes is as important as taking notes. As you write, your ability to retain the information increases. And your retention doubles when you read and rewrite what you’ve written. Though it may sound tedious, rewriting notes gives you a chance to organize both your words and your thoughts, as well as process the critical information. Any gaps in your knowledge will become evident, and you can then ask for more information before being put in a high-stakes or high-pressure situation. This type of note-taking can improve the entire office’s performance by training the brain to process information in an effective and efficient way.
Set Up for Success
Note-taking can help you, as an employee, walk the fine line of taking on new tasks, as well as demonstrate your capability of handling your current responsibilities. Being ill prepared without good notes can result in mistakes which overshadows any attempt at taking on new challenges. As a manager, make sure you continually provide your employees with exciting new ways to grow and be challenged within your company. By encouraging your employees to take notes, you are elevating their natural abilities with a simple step.
Remember, becoming a master at any skill or profession takes many hours of dedication. However, taking careful notes and reviewing that information can help alleviate the growing pains in any employee’s journey. Good note-taking skills are not just for those long forgotten college or high school classes. It is a life skill which can get you ahead in any field.